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Are Your Driving Habits Damaging Your Vehicle?

In this article we look at common driving habits many motorists do without realising, unfortunately, some of these actions could be causing costly damage to your vehicle.

Wrecked car

Resting on the gearstick

This is one habit many drivers do regularly, it can be bad for the transmission if you rest one hand on the gearstick, also known as a shift-stick in the USA. The gearstick is connected to a selector fork which is in contact with a rotating collar for a short amount of time. Resting on the gearstick applies added pressure to the selector fork which can cause unnecessary wear and tear.

Putting the accelerator to the floor in high gear

Many modern cars advise drivers when to change gear, this feature tends to be set for economy driving. By accelerating at low rpm, or in high gear, it makes the engine work harder and places extra strain on the engine, especially when carrying heavy loads or climbing hills.

Dragging brakes and late braking

Dragging brakes can increase wear and tear on brake pads and discs, which in turn, can lead to them needing to be replaced more frequently (than required) by a professional motor trade mechanic. It is recommended to engage a low gear; especially when driving downhill. Apply light braking actions before releasing the pedal to allow the brakes to cool, then repeat this process until you have reached a safe braking distance.

Consistent late braking will also place more strain on the whole brake system, as well as costing you more fuel in the process. In general, a slow and considered approach to driving while anticipating the road ahead is better for the vehicle, your safety, and our environment.

Riding the clutch

Clutch riding is not a good habit to get in to when driving. The clutch is a ‘wear and tear’ item not covered by a vehicle warranty or motor insurance policy, so poor clutch control shortens the life of the plate. Riding the clutch happens when the driver fails to take their foot off the pedal after changing gear, always ensure your foot leaves the clutch pedal and then rests on the off-clutch footrest. When performing hill-starts, leave the car in neutral with the handbrake on until you are ready to move away.

Overloading a vehicle

Most vehicles are designed to carry a heavy load, but not to be overloaded, the vehicle manual will often outline the maximum load weight. Too much weight will place strain on the brakes, suspension, drivetrain, and will also impact on fuel economy and emission output, so try to travel as light as possible.

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Changing from drive to reverse without stopping

Switching gear from reverse to drive with an automatic gearbox can really damage the transmission, as will crunching the gears in a manual vehicle.  Changing gear before coming to a complete stop will cause wear and tear on the transmission band, a very labour-intensive; and costly piece of machinery to repair once damaged.

Potholes and speed bumps

Research carried out suggests a third of all vehicle damage is caused by hitting potholes and speed bumps in the road. Impact can cause buckled wheels, cracked alloys, and upset the tracking and wheel balancing. Driving over speed bumps at speed can also damage the underside of a vehicle, and potentially the exhaust, so it is always best to approach these hazards with extreme caution.

Revving the engine when cold

It is often reported in the motor trade that short journeys are not good for vehicles because the engine oil never fully warms up, plus the battery is strained and not charged up properly. Always avoid revving an engine until it has warmed up, this gives the oil time to warm and circulate around the engine avoiding potential damage.

Some of these bad driving habits may come as a surprise to many motorists, they are not obvious habits like mirror, signal, and manoeuvre. But if you find yourself doing any of these when you next get behind the wheel, it’s advisable to try and eliminate them as soon as possible so not to cause any unnecessary damage.

Happy driving.